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What Exactly is Education?

Last updated on December 30, 2020

(Photo Credit: iStock)

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all let’s be outspoken.

A wave of fatigue consumes John as he is forced to wistfully listen to his teacher’s mundane lecture. In the battle to stay awake, he asks the question thousands of students across the nation ask in extreme boredom.

The question comes in many different variations but it boils down to one simple concept: the necessity of school. When the student leaves the classroom with homework assigned, projects due, and tests to study for, he wonders if school is really about educating students.

Especially at night, in the face of excessive math problems and repetitive essay prompts, he thinks about how these concepts are applicable in modern society.

How is learning parabolas going to pay my taxes? Does studying utilitarianism increase my chances of getting a job? Asking these questions forces the student to come to the inevitable realization that school is not about learning.

Learning is rather simplistic because anyone with a library card can educate themselves on Einstein’s theory of relativity or Thomas Aquinas’ thesis on objective morality.

However, school is different. When studying for a test, learning is secondary. The true intention behind studying is to get a sufficient letter grade for college or to achieve a social status among peers.

Although they are abiding to the rules of society, they are not receiving the proper education to be responsible or self sufficient adults. There needs to be change on a federal and state level because the status quo is not enough. Therefore, the education system should strive to reach two objectives: to teach lessons geared to adulthood and repurpose school through government legislation.

In academics, students focus on getting a 4.0-grade point average as opposed to learning. For example, from seventh to tenth grade, I was placed in average math. Since it was the lowest possible math level( with the exception of special education), my friends jokingly called it, “Retarded Math” or “SPED Math.” The teasing and subtle jokes were tedious, but their peer pressure was overwhelming.

Therefore, near the end of my sophomore year, I asked my counselor if I can advance to the next level. She simply told me in order to get into advanced placement calculus in my senior year, I had to be in an honors math class in my junior year.

So I enrolled in summer school in order to get into honors the following year. As of now, I have one goal: pass honors and then pass calculus. In doing so, I will receive college credit and increase my chances of getting into a prestigious college.

I have no intention of learning calculus because it will not be applied in my desired political profession. While this is an anecdote, thousands of children feel the same way when planning their classes.

An excerpt titled “Let Teenagers try Adulthood” supports this idea when it states, “When puberty meets education and learning in modern America, the victory of puberty masquerading as popular culture and the tyranny of peer groups based on ludicrous values meet little resistance.”

The quote greatly emphasizes school does not address imperative issues such as puberty or peer pressure. Later, the passage says that there is little to no preparation bestowed upon students for what is really at stake in becoming an adult. Therefore, what is the solution?

There is, without a doubt, a problem in America’s schools. In a 2005 study, it embarrassingly shows how low the number of advanced math students there are America in comparison to other countries. With the vast economy and strong military, America is often described as the “leader of the free world.”

However, when America‘s schools and education are considered, they appear weak on the world stage. In a different census, it shows a state by state study where they compared America’s most advanced states with other countries.

While it did meet the standards of the more educated European countries, it is laughable next to the top fourteen. There must be change within schools on a national level and we have the means to fix this growing problem.

In truth, the largest actor in the solution is the government. In finding a solution, looking at other countries can be constructive. In an article titled “From Shanghai Schools’ Approach Pushed Students to Top of Tests”, it describes the education in Shanghai, “Shanghai is believed to have the nation’s best school system, and many students gain admission to America’s most selective colleges and universities.”

However, they express that with this education comes the downfall of not being prepared for the greater economy. The education system is drastically strict and bars imagination. This may seem like a radical alternative to America’s schools.

In an article called “On No Child Left Behind,” the author clearly expresses his criticism of the nation’s No Child Left Behind policy, “One of the unintended consequences of NCLB was the shrinkage of time available to teach anything other than math and reading.”

His main thesis was the government, should implement a new system. One that focuses on academics and one that focuses on life skills. These may include fiscal responsibility or in-depth knowledge of civic responsibility. These are important skills that must be taught to every student.

The rising generation is what makes society prosper. They are the reason innovation and creativity exist. Young children everywhere have the inherent capacity to revolutionize technology, pioneer science, and lead millions. If we as a society cannot value that notion, then we will fall. Education is imperative and change is necessary for the near future.

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all let’s be outspoken.

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